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May Day Protest in Seattle, 2002 Welcome to the Center for the Study of Work, Labor, and Democracy

The Center for the Study of Work, Labor, and Democracy is an interdisciplinary research and education initiative at the University of California, Santa Barbara that aims to expand public understanding and discussion of important issues facing working people. In cooperation with the Department of History, the Center administers an undergraduate minor in Labor Studies and a graduate-level Colloquium in Work, Labor and Political Economy. The Center also hosts conferences and workshops that contribute to an understanding, of the issues and ideas, past and present, illuminating the character of American capitalism and the working class that sustains it. The Center is part of the All-UC Miguel Contreras Labor Program.


Recent News

Eileen Boris and Jennifer Klein on Home Care

Nelson Lichtenstein on Labor

Caitlin Rathe on Food Stamps

Christopher Phelps on Rick Perlstein

Nelson Lichtenstein on the South

Kurt Newman on the Left

Nelson Lichtenstein on VW and Northwestern

Jean-Christian Vinel on Professors as Workers

Samir Sonti on Student Workers

Elizabeth Shermer on Faculty Unions

Kit Smemo on Liberal Republicans

Kurt Newman on US Intellectual History Blog

Nelson Lichtenstein on The AFL-CIO's new agenda.

Kurt Newman on UAW 2865's sympathy strike with AFSCME 3299.

Nelson Lichtenstein on Resistance to Obamacare.

Nelson Lichtenstein on Unions and Liberalism.

Samir Sonti on Rosa Parks' overlooked past as an activist and organizer.

Nelson Lichtenstein on Obamacare.

Nelson Lichtenstein on Michigan's Right-to-Work law.

Nelson Lichtenstein awarded 2012 Sol Stetin Award for Labor History.

  • Read his acceptance speech here.

Eileen Boris in an op-ed for the Sacramento Bee

Eileen Boris & Jennifer Klien in a New York Times op-ed


Winter 2015 Events

January 23 Friday/ 1 PM / 4041 HSSB: David Nye, University of Southern Denmark. “The Assembly Line and American Labor.” Nye is the author of America’s Assembly Line (2013), When the Lights Went Out: A History of Blackouts in America (2010), and Electrifying America (1990), winner of the Dexter Prize and the Abel Wolman Award.

A chapter from his most recent book is can be found here.

January 30 / Friday/ 1 PM / 4041 HSSB: Catherine Fisk, University of California, Irvine School of Law. “A Union of Freelance White Collar Workers? Lessons from the Writers Guild and the History of Advertising in the 1940s and 1950s.” Fisk is the author of Working Knowledge: Employee Innovation and the Rise of Corporate Intellectual Property, 1800-1930 (2009), and Labor Law Stories (2005). Fisk’s research focuses on labor issues in the entertainment industry, employee mobility in technology sectors, and intellectual property.

A copy of Professor Fisk’s paper can be found here.

February 13 / Friday/ 1 PM / 4041 HSSB: Kristoffer Smemo, UCSB. “The Human Problem: Industrial Peace and the Liberal Republican Civil Rights Agenda during World War Two.” Smemo is completing a dissertation on the rise and fall of liberal Republicans from the late 1930s through the early Reagan era.

February 20 / Friday / 1 PM / 4041 HSSB: Noah Zatz, UCLA School of Law, “Precarious Work in the Carceral State.” Zatz is the author of “Poverty Unmodified: Critical Reflections on the Deserving/Underserving Distinction,” and “Beyond Misclassification: Tackling the Independent Contractor Problem.” Zatz’s research address how work structures both inequality and social citizenship in the modern welfare state, and how certain activities become recognized and protected as “work."

Eric HiltMarch 13 / Friday / 1 PM / 4041 HSSB: Eric Hilt, Wellesley College. “Banks, Insider Connections, and Industrialization: New Evidence from Massachusetts.” Trained as an economist, Hilt is the author of numerous articles on 19th century corporate governance, politics, and banking. He is a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research.






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The Colloquium in Work, Labor and Political Economy will take place at 1:00pm on designated Fridays during the Spring Quarter in HSSB 4041.


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Center for the Study of Work, Labor, and Democracy
Department of History,
University of California, Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-9410.
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